I must admit that I haven't read as many books as most of y'all, especially since I went through a phase where I read almost nothing but magazines, but I've definitely read enough to be able to contribute here. So here goes...
# of books I own:
I'm too lazy to count, but my guess is that I'm approaching 200 books in my collection. If I was a packrat, I'd easily have at least twice as many magazines, but moving a lot can make one choose to lighten the load so to speak.
Last Book I Bought:
William S. Burrough's The Soft Machine. Haven't read it yet.
Last Book I Read:
Carlos Castaneda's Tales of Power. Very interesting book. I'll probably read some more of his work in the future, but I plan on digging in to some Burroughs first, along with the many other books lying around that I haven't read yet.
5 books that mean a lot to me:
My entry here is gonna seem pretty generic, but whatever. I already admitted that I have more reading to do!
George Orwell's 1984: I read this prior to my senior year of high school and it was a very enjoyable read, except for when I came to realize that it's not exactly the futuristic warning that government school teachers will tell you it is. In other words, I realized how some of Orwell's fears had indeed become reality, and this book was definitely one of the eye openers of my life experience that made me begin to question the standard American narrative that is constantly spoon fed to people by the government, it's schools, and it's lapdog media. Reading this book also made me decide to seek out...
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited: I enjoyed Huxley's dystopic classic far more than 1984, and the Revisited portion was especially interesting. I ended up writing a series of essays about both dystopic novels for my AP English class even though neither book was assigned reading. I find it interesting, and rather telling, that many people do end up reading 1984 in school, but not Brave New World. Teachers could easily dismiss the concerns of people who have read Orwell's book by declaring it to be a criticism of totalitarian governments such as the former Soviet Union, but Huxley's novel provides a look at a dystopia that is a little bit too close to home. I can see how school boards and other government bureaucrats would rather have students read more Shakespeare or Hemingway or the politically correct author of the month or whatever.
Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus Trilogy: This book was a mind-blower, to say the least. I had more fun reading this book than any other, despite the fact that much of it went straight over my young head. I need to read this one again, especially since I'm sure I'd appreciate it far more the second time.
Harry Browne's Why Government Doesn't Work: This was my introduction to libertarianism, in book form. I knew jack shit about economics at the time, which is part of the reason why I ended up being side tracked a year or so later into supporting leftist policies aimed at taming the beast known as big business. Despite my short diversion into statist leftdom, I remained more anti-statist than many generic lefties. Most lefties support the legalization of marijuana, for example, but you'll be hard pressed to find many who support the legalization of all drugs. I also held a more negative view of the welfare state than your typical leftie.
Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity: It may not be the most in-depth treatise in favor of simplifying one's life, but then again you could say that the book takes the form of the type of lifestyle that is promoted within it's pages. Much of my childhood was marred by chronic depression, and rethinking the way I perceived life and chose to live it was something that this book helped me to do. My life may not be where I want it to be yet, but it's a process that I'm constantly working on.
I like the fact that Elgin promotes the idea of voluntary change, although I wish he would have been more consistent with that theme. At one point in the book, he explained how making voluntary choices has profound positive effects on one's psyche while the effects of involuntary change are usually negative. Later on though, he suggests that higher sin taxes against things like alcohol, cigarettes, and gasoline would encourage people to make enlightened voluntary changes in their consumption habits. Hmm... if people do make changes because of higher taxes, how exactly would they be voluntary given the fact that these higher prices are being forcibly imposed on them? It seems like such a scenario would create much resentment amongst those who are affected by it, not to mention the fact that some people may voluntarily choose to seek out black market alternatives. You'd think that Elgin would have thought of all that, but I guess those who promote statist public policy don't always take everything into account.
Despite little things like that, it was still a book that helped to shape who I am today. It's definitely one of those books where if you ignore the occasional objectionable stuff (like promoting higher taxes), it may still end up being a worthwhile read that'll have a positive effect on you.
Like I said earlier, it's a pretty generic list. I do have lots of books lying around that I plan on reading, and I will fortunately have time to read them later on in the summer. On deck are books by William S. Burroughs, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Murray Rothbard, Ursula Le Guin, Peter Kropotkin, David Beito and Robert Heinlein. I also plan on ordering a copy of Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, but I need to collect another paycheck first and make sure I don't spend any of it on music. Music is the one consumptive habit that I definitely spend too much money on. If I didn't live in an apartment with such thin walls, I'd spend more time creating my own music. That'll change sooner or later.
I suppose I have to tag 5 more people now to keep this book tag going. I don't know how many, if any, of these people have been tagged yet, but I'm gonna tag them anyway.
James Leroy Wilson